Dani Clos' successful test with the HRT F1 squad in Abu Dhabi two weeks ago looks set to land the Catalan an involvement in the top flight next season, even though he may have to wait for a race seat.
The team, which confirmed Spanish veteran Pedro de la Rosa
to a two-year contract last week, is keen to project a strong national image, and signing Clos, even to a testing agreement, would be another step in that direction.
"I think Dani is thinking more in GP2
for next year, but in one way or another will always be linked to the team," director general Saul Ruiz de Marcos told journalists in Spain, "During the races, he will be by the 'box' and our motorhome, we want to be a shelter for the Spanish."
With Ruiz de Marcos revealing that 'in two or three weeks, we will announce the name of the second pilot', Clos could find himself overlooked in favour of a veteran such as Tonio Liuzzi or 'placed' young talent as Daniel Ricciardo was in 2011, while erstwhile HRT pilot Narain Karthikeyan has not given up hope of rejoining the line-up. Meanwhile, Clos looks set to return for a third year of GP2, albeit not with the Racing Engineering operation that took him to the podium and victory in the past two seasons.
HRT, meanwhile, will attempt to break the association with the Hispania Racing name under which it completed its first campaign as an F! team, as new owner Thesan Capital attempts to ramp up its on-track performance and all-Spanish image.
"While we had a team that went to the races, we created another, very wisely and quietly," Ruiz de Marcos revealed, "As the season ends, the cars come to headquarters in Valencia, where 45 people have gathered. Collin Kolles is now the team leader, but other than that had many other contracts. Kolles is currently team leader only, because everything else is on us: the trucks are ours, our headquarters too. Right now, the team is fully Spanish.
"Additionally, we are trying to do something very good in terms of mechanics. For example, if we have a number one mechanic who has experience in F1 and is English, we would usually make his number two Spanish. We do it for two reasons: to make everything more Spanish, but also, if the mechanic would return to England or something similar, the Spanish mechanic, who is younger, would have enough experience to replace him with guarantees.
"I estimate that, by early next year, 60-70 per cent of people who work with us will be Spanish. And I think it good to have 30-40 per cent of people outside. Also, this may be a magnet for Spanish people right now that may be on other computers, as has happened with Pedro, who is stepping down at McLaren
to come here."
The decoupling from Hispania Racing, the relocation to Valencia and the signing of de la Rosa all help to underline the team's Spanish intentions, and Ruiz de Marcos insists that all will help the team take the next step in its develoipment.